Category Archives: Science

The Future of Visual Computing

8232At the newly launched UC San Diego Center for Visual Computing – or VisComp – researchers are building a future when photograph-quality images can be rendered instantly on mobile devices; a future in which computers and wearable devices have the ability to see and understand the physical world just as humans do; and a future in which real and virtual media content merge seamlessly across different platforms.

The opportunities in communication, health and medicine, city planning, entertainment, 3D printing and more are vast in this emerging field of ‘visual computing’ that pulls together computer vision, computer graphics, and virtual reality.

The director of VisComp and professor of Computer Science and Engineering Ravi Ramamoorthi, who produced breakthroughs that are now widely adopted by the movie and video game industries to recreate the visual appearance of the world, is
joined by two other faculty members on the interdisciplinary roster of VisComp: Cognitive Science professor Zhuowen Tu, and Qualcomm Institute research scientist Jurgen Schulze, who also teaches computer graphics in the Computer Science and Engineering department.

In a wide-ranging conversation about the future of visual computing, they discuss the advances on which they are working in distinct areas such as computer graphics, computer vision, computational imaging and augmented and virtual reality – and the kinds of devices and applications we’ll be seeing in the future.

Watch Computing Primetime: Visual Computing and browse other programs in the Computing Primetime series.

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Contributed by Producer, Rich Wargo

 
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Understand Climate Change – and What You Can Do About It

Learn more about climate change with new programs that examine its impact from a variety of perspectives. Discover how humans and climate interact and affect one another, learn what you can do to reduce greenhouse emissions, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the Pope’s call to protect the environment.

8232Climate Change, Consumerism and the Pope with Daniel Kammen and Jennifer Granholm

After being summoned to the Vatican to advise on climate change, Dan Kammen of UC Berkeley shares an insider’s view on what inspired Pope Francis to issue such a passionate plea to protect the earth in Laudato Si, his 2015 encyclical on the environment. As a practicing Catholic, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm praises the Pope for presenting “human ecology” as a moral issue in this lively exchange with Kammen and Henry E. Brady, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.

Watch Climate Change, Consumerism and the Pope with Daniel Kammen and Jennifer Granholm.

8232What Are You Going to Do About It? The Effect of Uncertainty on Climate Change Policy

Taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions imposes costs now in order to avoid potentially very large costs from more severe climate change in the future. Steve Polasky, Professor of Ecological/Environmental Economics University of Minnesota, reviews major sources of uncertainty and how that alters the choice of optimal climate change policy. He discusses current debates on how best to frame climate change policy, and whether it should be framed as setting limits on greenhouse gas concentrations to avoid potentially catastrophic damages or as an application of benefit-cost analysis.

Watch What Are You Going to Do About It? The Effect of Uncertainty on Climate Change Policy.

8232CARTA: Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution: Past and Future

According to earth scientists, paleontologists, and scholars in other fields, the planet has entered a new geological phase – the Anthropocene, the age of humans. How did this transition of our species from an apelike ancestor in Africa to the current planetary force occur? What are the prospects for the future of world climate, ecosystems, and our species? This symposium presents varied perspectives on these critical questions from earth scientists, ecologists, and paleoanthropologists.

Watch CARTA: Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution: Past and Future.

Check out all of the programs in Understanding Climate Change.

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The Amazing Diversity of Fishes!

8232The aquatic world presents the widest diversity of habitats, so it’s no surprise that fishes have come to present the widest diversity of vertebrate species.

From the darkest depths to tropical shores, there are more than 33,000 species of living fishes, accounting for more than half of the extant vertebrate diversity on Earth.

For years, Curator of Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Marine Vertebrate collection, Phil Hastings, has been immersed in the systematics and phylogeny of fishes, their marine biogeography, and the ecology and behavioral evolution of fishes, and takes you on a tour of what makes this most diverse array of animals.

Watch The Amazing Diversity of Fishes.

Browse more programs from Perspectives on Ocean Science.

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CARTA: Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution – Past and Future

8232The existence of Beringia had a great impact on the spread of the human species only 16,000 years ago – and not long after, climatic periods like the Medieval megadroughts extending into the second millennium moved Vikings to Greenland, vineyards to England and played a role in the collapse of the Inca and Anasazi cultures.

And all this before humans took a role in shaping climate.

Now, according to earth scientists, paleontologists, and scholars in other fields, the planet has entered a new geological phase – the Anthropocene, the age of humans. How did this transition of our species from an apelike ancestor in Africa to the current planetary force occur? What are the prospects for the future of world climate, ecosystems, and our species?

In May, CARTA (The Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny) gathered the world’s foremost earth scientists, ecologists, and paleoanthropologists to address these questions – and with mostly dreadfully sobering evidence, they place the future of the planet squarely, and irretrievably, in our hands.

Watch Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution – Past and Future.

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Atmospheric Rivers: California Rainmakers

8232“If we went straight up from here to space, took every water vapor molecule, and condensed it into liquid, anybody hazard to guess how deep it might be?”

So queried Marty Ralph, atmospheric scientist and director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes early on in his fascinating exploration of the newest understanding of how precipitable moisture is transported in the atmosphere. The answer to his question is as surprising as what people like him have helped us come to understand about what scientists and meteorologists now call “ARs”, or atmospheric rivers.

Just ten years ago we didn’t have a clear understanding or a name for this phenomenon, but as Marty shows, the advent of new satellite technology made these atmospheric features “…stand out like a sore thumb.”

If the history of their discovery isn’t fascinating enough, what they mean for California, and anywhere else in the world affected by the influence of ARs is stunning in terms of what they can do in terms of damage, as well as ending droughts. Considering the current situation you might find yourself hoping for a bit of an “Arkstorm”. What’s that? You’ll have to watch and see, but I will say, like massive earthquakes, they have happened here before, and they will happen again.

Watch Atmospheric Rivers: California Rainmakers.

Browse more programs in Perspectives on Ocean Science.

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